Seattle WA has an interesting feature on their city website that allows you to arrange information in different ways.
It’s called the Open Data Program.
It takes the information generated by the City and makes it available to the public. The idea is to increase transparency (buzzword), accountability (another buzzword), and comparability.
The City wants to promote economic development with this information and also uses it internally, to improve performance management.
They want the public to use the data in ways that support the development and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
Essentially, all the permits, licenses, and inspection information are there for us to slice and dice, perhaps revealing areas that require room for improvement.
Shining a spotlight on data has always been a tool I’ve used to encourage change.
Back when I was a middle manager, whenever there was a problem, I always suggested bringing the information forward for discussion.
- The inequitable use of resources was a great one. If one department was a frequent user of travel resources, for example, it was something we would report on. The department might be encouraged to reduce their use or contribute financially to support the resource.
When you take information and arrange it in another way, it gives you a new perspective on the topic.
You gain insights and valuable thoughts about the topic. Sometimes it helps resolve a dispute between two departments. When one department is paying for resources that another one is using, it can sometimes cause resentment. After all, if someone else was spending your budget, you’d like them to know how much the service is costing you.
Other data is more entertaining.
Take pet licensing data for example.
From January 1st to April 7th, 2021, the City of Seattle has issued 7711 pet licenses. That’s a fair number but the breakdown is revealing.
There were licenses issued for:
- Cats, 2110
- Dogs, 5593
- Goats, 7
- and one pig named Millie.
The City records pet names and breeds as part of its license data gathering as well as zip codes, which are used in planning.
The goats were named Trixie, Coco, Charlotte, Pearl, Verna, Estelle, and Carmella, very dignified names for goats, in my opinion.
Olive/Oliver/Ollie is the most popular dog name by far, at (68) individual dogs. with Luna (47), Lucy (44), Charlie and Belle/Bella/Belle tied at (40).
Other popular dog monikers included a variety of names, both traditional and unusual.
- Buddy/Bud, Zoe/Zoey, Max/Maxwell, Cocoa/Coco, Rosie/Rose, Milo, Lola, Lily, Leo/Leon, Jack, Henry, Cooper, Tucker, Teddy, Scout, versions of Sam (Sammy, Samwise), Ruby, Rocky/Rocket, Riley, Pepper, Molly, Murphy, Maggie, Stella, and Louie/Lou are among the most popular.
Lucky was only given to (16) dogs, which surprised me.
One notable pet name was Jadzia Dax, which was given to two dogs, a Chihuahua and a Doberman, on the same day.
Retrievers and Terriers made up the majority of breeds, although there were a wide variety of others and a lot of dogs were identified as ‘Mixed’.
For cats, surprisingly, Olive/Oliver/Ollie is the most popular at (34).
I found it a bit strange that the most popular dog name is also the most popular cat name.
I wonder if the cats know about that.
Pepper, Shadow, Smudge are examples of popular cat names.
One notable domestic shorthair cat is named Spaghetti Margaretti Fairchild.
I imagine this cat is very fancy and somewhat entitled.
I can see how this information might be useful in planning for parks or it might help a veterinarian decide whether a small dog practice might do well in a certain area.
It could also assist a small business person in making a decision whether or not to open a pet food store or start a dog walking service in the area.